Evelyn Forget, in a Forum organized by the Canadian Medical Association in Calgary on April 23rd, highlighted the growing gap in Manitoba between those on low incomes and the rest of the province. The results are directly relevant to the low marks Manitoba received today in a Conference Board report Paving the Road to Higher Performance: Benchmarking Provincial Health Systems.
First, to review the Conference Board Report, Manitoba, overall, received a D which is the lowest possible mark, for Health, Health Care and Wellness. Major reasons for Manitoba's low marks were very low marks (D) on Life Expectancy and Perceived Health Status and on on the Incidence of Disease in Manitoba.
Life Expectancy for Manitobans included life expectancy at birth, life expectancy at age 65, infant mortality and potential years of life lost with Manitoba getting D's on three of these four. The Incidence of Disease assessed diabetes, mood disorder, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, newly reported HIV cases, chlamydia, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute myocardial infarction. Manitoba received D's on three of these - mood disorders, chlamydia and asthma. A major reason for these low marks is the high incidence of many of these diseases among those on low incomes.
The Conference Board Report also rated Manitoba poorly on access to health care (long wait times in many areas), and in continuity of care (too often Manitobans needed to change physicians, went to providers who did not have medical records available etc.) The poor marks in these areas may explain, in part the poor health care and the poor health of those with low incomes.
For more on this report see http://www.conferenceboard.ca/temp/3d120f23-ce39-4f39-bce9-f07bc72ff08d/13-305_provhealthbenchmarking_cashc.pdf
Evelyn Forget talked about the growing gap between the health of those on low incomes in Manitoba
. She said that working in Winnipeg and at the Health Sciences Centre "a lot of what we are treating are the consequences of poverty." She went on to talk about the fact that on many indices and in many areas of health those who are in the lowest socio-economic status have worsening trends instead of improving trends. For example premature mortality (people who die before age 75) in Winnipeg is "falling for all except the poorest 20 per cent of Winnipeggers." She mentioned also that the measure of "potential years of life lost is getting worse for the poorest 20 per cent of Winnipeggers." In her comments, Evelyn Forget emphasized that for "Almost anything you look at the rates are
appallingly large for the poorest 20 per cent of Winnipeggers relative to the
other 80 per cent.
For more on Evelyn Forget's comments see the video of the full forum at: http://www.cpac.ca/eng/programs/conversation-macleans/episodes/cma-town-hall-calgary
Today I asked the Minister of Health what she was specifically going to do to improve the health and the health care for those who are of the lowest socio-economic status in Manitoba. I will post my questions and the answers here when they are available from Hansard.